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In the spotlight: Tomo Koizumi When dreams come true

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Julia Kryshevich

In the spotlight: Tomo Koizumi When dreams come true

Just a few updates before we start. PH proceeds with the ‘In Focus’ column, exploring and highlighting art by the most distinguished photographers of the modern world. However, from now on, we also talk about fashion. Brands that have changed our idea of vogue, and people who stand behind the labels, extensive overviews of fashion collections, and many more. Meet our new ‘In the spotlight’ column! 

And our first guest today is Tomo Koizumi, Japanese designer who has rocked the fashion world with his organza ‘make-a-cake’ dresses.

Tomo Koizumi says he has always been interested in designing clothes. His childhood environment was a breeding ground for such an interest: his mother just loved vogue. Having discovered a work of John Galliano for Dior at the age of 14, Koizumi finally made up his mind to go in for fashion.

Koizumi’s A_W 2019 collection. Photo_ Jonas Gustavsson_MCV Photo for The Washington Post

His first education was rather general: Koizumi graduated with a fine arts degree from the National Chiba University (Chiba, Japan). Meanwhile his personal brand came to life and evolved progressively. In 2016 the young couturier took a chance to dress Lady Gaga, he also designed for some Asian celebrities such as British-Japanese singer and songwriter Rina Sawayama and female members from the Dreams Come True pop band. Sounds good, but no room for complacency, Koizumi probably thought. He kept on elaborating his taste and style and proceeded with studying at Coconogacco, Japanese fashion school founded by the Saint Martins graduate Yoshikazu Yamagata.

Lady Gaga in Tomo Koizumi’s dress, 2016. Image_ Vanity Fair Italia

Singer Rina Sawayama performs dressed in Tomo Koizumi’s, 2019. Photo_ Vogue Japan

‘I really like to make big gowns, but in Japan nobody wears them as there are no galas. I still wanted to make something big and extravagant, so the only way for me to fit in the Japanese market was to dress singers for performances’.(Tomo Koizumi, from the article on SCMP, 2019)

Tomo Koizumi recalls, he used to create rather fitted clothes in his early career since he wasn’t acquainted with the sophisticated technique of making voluminous gowns back then (may the latter be also a less obvious decision for ready-to-wear collections). Studying at Coconogacco gave him a pair of wings (in the sense of freedom to experiment) and a perfect chance, which happened almost by accident. 

Backstage. Preparing for the debut A_W 2019 fashion show. Photo_ Lexie Moreland_WWD

‘Working in the fashion industry means you eventually must think commercially so you can sell something, but I would still like to make something to entertain people’. (Tomo Koizumi, from the article on Vogue UK, 2019)

One day in October 2018 Sara Maino, Deputy Editor of Vogue Italia and Head of Vogue Talents, briefly interrupted her business trip across Tokyo to visit Coconogacco, a local pool of fashion talents. Among the other school students, Maino got to know Koizumi and posted one of his works on Instagram later. And then six handshakes came to aid (actually, even less than six). Designer Giles Deacon couldn’t help but admire a pumped firebird-colored dress made from Japanese organza and immediately resent the image to Katie Grand. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say, it was eventually Grand who launched the international career of Tomo Koizumi. Famous stylist, fashion-journalist, and head of Love Magazine at that time, she knew what links to use to polish the designer’s genius with the right opportunities.

Sara Maino’s publication of Tomo Koizumi’s firebird-colored dress. Image_ Sara Maino’s Instagram

A Love Magazine shoot, featuring a few dresses by Koizumi, became a good ground for further collaboration between the world-renowned stylist and the emerging designer. Tomo Koizumi claims it took him and Katie less than a half an hour to set up his first fashion show. Initially, the choice of the venue fell on London, but later it was changed to the big apple, considering a greater support possible there.

A_W 2019 Collection by Tomo Koizumi. Catwalk. Model_ Sara Grace Wallerstedt. Photo_ Armando Grillo _ Gorunway

A_W 2019 Collection by Tomo Koizumi. Catwalk. Model_ Emily Ratajkowski. Photo_ Armando Grillo _ Gorunway.com

A_W 2019 Collection by Tomo Koizumi. Catwalk. Model_ Bella Hadid. Photo_ Armando Grillo _ Gorunway

‘I don’t want to follow trends. I may be checking trends in order to not follow trends. I want to do something opposite of trends.’ (Tomo Koizumi, from the article on WWD, 2019) 

Tomo Koizumi had been in the US just once before. In early February 2019 he arrived at New York with three suitcases filled with the carefully packed 28 looks. Though feeling like a newcomer, the designer certainly enjoyed the best conditions while preparing for his upcoming show. Marc Jacobs lent Koizumi his boutique on Madison Avenue to use as a venue, Pat McGrath and Guido Palau agreed to take makeup and hair, while models Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski and actress Gwendoline Christie were invited to walk down the runway. With all the services being provided for free, needless to say, Tomo Koizumi was enormously grateful to his newly-minted team and Katie Grand in person. 

A_W 2019 Collection by Tomo Koizumi. Catwalk. Model_ Shanelle Nyasiase. Photo_ Armando Grillo _ Gorunway

A_W 2019 Collection by Tomo Koizumi. Catwalk. Model_ Zoe Thaets. Photo_ Armando Grillo _ Gorunway

A_W 2019 Collection by Tomo Koizumi. Catwalk. Model_ Londone Myers. Photo_ Armando Grillo _ Gorunway

‘After that show, I got many great compliments from all over the world. I want to give something joyful back to them.’ (Tomo Koizumi, from the article on Vogue UK, 2019)

Koizumi’s debut fashion show aka his Autumn/Winter 2019 collection was compiled within a couple of days. On February 08, 2019 around 6 p.m. in the Marc Jacobs store as agreed, Tomo Koizumi showcased his flight of fantasy featuring three dozens of frothy outfits. Each of a unique colour combination, dresses from Tomo Koizumi F/W 2019 remind anything but an exquisite dessert. There is quite a complicated background behind the collection, though. To create his magnificent gowns, Koizumi sought inspiration in rather diverse things, such as creations by the Italian designer Roberto Capucci, performance pieces by Leigh Bowery, and Japanese kind of funerary banner called hanawa. Another important and pretty unusual source of enthusiasm for the designer was the figure of Sailor Moon, a Japanese fairytale character and a symbol of a cute yet strong female capable of doing magic.

Tomo Koizumi’s Bridal Collection 2021. Courtesy of the brand

Tomo Koizumi’s Bridal Collection 2021. Courtesy of the brand

Tomo Koizumi’s Bridal Collection 2021. Courtesy of the brand

‘My dreams are coming true and I want to follow them’(Tomo Koizumi, from the article on Vogue UK, 2019)

As for the show, it was nothing but a success. Koizumi was accepted as a perfect dream catcher, persistent in following his vision and ideas. An American Dream for the world of fashion, no differently. Indeed, the designer has been doing well: in 2019 he took part in the high fashion art exhibition ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’, organized by the Costume Institute Gala, where he presented two of his models. Koizumi also carried on with fashion shows, introducing his Spring/Summer 2020 collection at the New York Fashion Week. Instead of 28 fantasy gowns, there were just 7 new looks that time, yet Tomo Koizumi decided to take a deep dive and created even bigger pieces to showcase at NYFW. And that doesn’t even count numerous publications in glossies and individual orders performed by the designer.

Spring 2020 Ready-To-Wear Collection by Tomo Koizumi. Courtesy of the brand

Spring 2020 Ready-To-Wear Collection by Tomo Koizumi. Courtesy of the brand

Spring 2020 Ready-To-Wear Collection by Tomo Koizumi. Courtesy of the brand

All right, what’s next? Is Koizumi going to further evolve his signature style? If so, how long will this ruffles craze last? 

‘I keep thinking about this. I know that I’m known for my ruffles, but I want to keep this signature and develop it in different ways. I’m not a big brand that has to sell all kinds of clothing, so I can only do this for now’. (Tomo Koizumi, from the article on SCMP, 2019)

Curious to see what Koizumi will come up with, considering his unwillingness to go commercial. Yet the designer has collaborated with the haute-couture brand Emilio Pucci recently. The results of the collaboration you could see at the latest Milan Fashion Week. The Pucci collection of tender youthful looks was slightly seasoned with Koizumi’s ruffled gowns, colours snow white, peach, and lemon yellow. Wait, ruffles again? Well, yes. So far it makes sense.

Cover: Designer Tomo Koizumi after his debut A/W 2019 show. Photo by Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post

Art Digest: October 19—25

By /ART/, /BLOG/, /NEWS/
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Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest: October 19—25

Have you ever noticed that anything lost gets found? No matter how well it was hidden… In fact, quite the opposite — the biggest secrets have a way of getting out. The same is true about the masterpieces — whether hidden, stolen or lost, so many paintings eventually get back to the home collection to the joy of numerous art lovers. That’s exactly the story of Gustav Klimt’s ‘Portrait of a Lady’ that was abducted from the Ricci Oddi gallery 20 years ago. The other discovery of the week is that three top Hollywood actresses are going to be guest narrators at the ‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’ exhibition, which finally takes place at the Met Museum starting from the next week. More on this and the other weekly news in the digest below.

Artist Gustav Klimt, right, with his partner, Emilie Flöge, circa 1910. Photo_ Getty Images_

A R T

‘Portrait of a Lady’ by Gustav Klimt to be displayed after 20 years missing 

Another art heist of the century, news. The collection of the Ricci Oddi gallery (Piacenza, Italy) received back its masterpiece in the beginning of the week. The painting by famous Austrian artist Gustav Klimt titled ‘Portrait of a Lady’ was stolen from the Italian gallery during its reconstruction in February 1997. The investigative authorities had a few versions of the incident, including the one suggesting that people close to the gallery had been involved in the scam. Currently robbers have been identified — the two elderly men confessed to the theft last year right after the limitation period for the crime had expired.

Left, Klimt_s Portrait of a Lady (1916-17)_ and right, the Ricci Oddi gallery in Piacenza. Courtesy of the Ricci Oddi gallery_

To be more precise, the thieves ‘gifted’ the painting to the museum four years ago having placed it in the niche of the gallery wall thickly covered with ivy bushes. It was the local gardener who discovered the work while clearing the wall a year ago. Now the ‘Portrait of a Lady’ is back at the Ricci Oddi gallery and there are big plans for it! Four shows dedicated to the figure of Gustav Klimt will run spanning two years in the institution. The first exhibition runs from November 2020 till March 2021. No doubt, the freshly recovered jewel is going to be in limelight on the display.

Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Julianne Moore to narrate the upcoming Met exhibition 

The annual exhibition organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute, which comes as a conceptual sequel of the Met Gala, is a long-awaited event, no doubt. Yet this year we had to await it for too long — instead of traditionally taking place in May, the show starts off in late October lasting till February 2021. No more dwelling on the reasons of the postponement, we would better focus on the event itself. The intriguing topic of the year 2019 (remember it was Camp: Notes on Fashion’) gives a way to the no less interesting ‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’.

From left to right_ Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman at the 2002 New York premiere of ‘The Hours’. Photo_ Getty Images

Perfectly in line with the Museum’s exhibition policy, the current show promises to be a visual delicacy, equally referring to the worlds of art and fashion. According to the Wendy Curator, Andrew Bolton, the exhibition was designed as a ‘meditation on fashion and temporality — drawing out the tensions between change and endurance, transience and permanence, ephemerality and persistence’. However, the show isn’t only about an image, it’s also about a sound. The soundtrack to the event (if it’s a right word) is based on Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘Orlando’. Hollywood actresses Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman will voice the abstracts from Woolf’s work, thus creating the auditory background of the display. Why Streep, Kidman, and Moore? Well, if you’ve watched the 2002 film ‘The Hours’ starring the three actresses, you probably know the answer. 

From the display of ‘About Time_ Fashion and Duration’ at Met, May 2020. Photo_ Annie Leibovitz

Shepard Fairey creates US election-inspired posters for Time 

Right after designing an anti-Trump billboard for the Artists United for Change group, street artist Shepard Fairey took over another enlightening job. In light of the upcoming US election on November 03, Fairey decided to assist Time Magazine in encouraging Americans to demonstrate their citizenship. The artist created a cover for the November issue of Time, depicting a woman wearing a bandana as a face covering (a little criticism for those who skip doing that and, consequently, don’t really take their civil liability).

‘Even though the subject in the portrait knows there are additional challenges to democracy during a pandemic, she is determined to use her voice and power by voting’. (Shepard Fairey

The portrait originates from the artist’s 2020 series called ‘Our Hands — Our Future’. Shepard Fairey believes that it’s not only voting that constitutes the bright democratic future, yet casting a ballot is crucial to contribute to this honorable target. Remarkably, never before has Time Magazine removed their masthead from the cover giving space to the artist’s ideas. However, this concession might seem less surprising, bearing in mind that Shepard Fairey collaborates with Time for the third time already.

Artist Shepard Fairey working in his studio. Courtesy of Shepard Fairey _ Instagram_

F A S H I O N 

Nature-inspired S/S 2021 collection by Australian designer Dion Lee 

Even if the word collocation Australian fashion doesn’t ring a bell to you, it’s never too late to learn more. Especially with such talented Australian creatives on radar. The Sydney-born fashion designer Dion Lee established his eponymous brand in 2009. In the same year Lee took part in the Australian Fashion Week and got things rolling rather quickly in his home context. However, his international rise came in 2018, when the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle was seen in public wearing one of Lee’s dresses. 

Dion Lee has recently presented his S/S 2021 Ready-To-Wear collection, and it’s quite different from everything that came before under the label’s roof. Focusing on technicality and ‘intelligent sensuality’ (Dion Lee’s expression), the brand usually offers nontrivial, asymmetrical outfits that look bold and sexy. This time apart from sex appeal, the S/S 2021 dresses radiate intimacy and harmony with the world around. Inspired by the warming issue, the collection features organic curves (such as Monstera leaf-shaped leather tops), light natural shades, and sophisticated weaving (knotting, macramé etc). Dion Lee, all eyes on you, curious what’s coming next!

Dion Lee S_S 2021 Ready-To-Wear Collection. Courtesy of the brand

Dion Lee S_S 2021 Ready-To-Wear Collection. Courtesy of the brand

Dion Lee S_S 2021 Ready-To-Wear Collection. Courtesy of the brand

P H O T O G R A P H Y 

Foam Talent Call 2020’ winners announced 

Keen photographers know it firsthand. Organized by Foam Magazine, the annual event has been running for five years, creating opportunities for young and aspiring visual artists. All right, it’s Foam Talent Call. On the table is going on public display as well as having one’s works featured in Foam Magazine. Not bad, right?

The Foam Talent 2020 edition has recently announced the finalists. There are 19 of them, selected out of 1,619 portfolios from 69 countries. The chosen visual artists will showcase their works at Kühlhaus Berlin (Berlin) from 22 October — 1 November, 2020.

Foam Talent 2020 _ From the series ‘Charlie Surfs on Lotus Flowers’. Photo_ Simone Sapienza_

Foam Talent 2020 _ From the series ‘PVC Meatway’. Photo_ Aadesokan

Foam Talent 2020 _ From the series ‘Fire Island Night’. Photo_ Matthew Leifheit

Later on the exhibition will move to Amsterdam. Here are a few sneak picks, if you are sure about your plans to attend the show yet.

On Cover Photo: Annie Leibovitz

In Focus: Alma Haser

By /ART/, /BLOG/
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Julia Kryshevich

In Focus: Alma Haser

She used to roam across the matchstick factory as a child, having left for a world trip with her family at 13. She usually mixes up words (finding herself quite dyslexic) and prefers visual narratives to the verbal ones. An amazing girl coming from a distinctive background, Alma Haser has decided to turn her life into art and magic. Learn more about her cubist, origami-structured works today.

01. From the ‘Cosmic Surgery’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

Alma Haser was born to a rather creative family of a painter and a sculptor in the Black Forest (Germany). Her parents used to work on the territory of a matchstick factory in turns, thus, Alma and her brother were often on their own, making up and playing games and exploring the world around them. The artist recalls, it was her wild and free childhood that really shaped her. 

‘We were very much given the freedom to experiment and use our imagination, which I believe is the bedrock of my practice now.’ (Alma Haser, from the interview with AnOtherMagazine, 2018)

03. From ‘I Always Have To Repeat Myself’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

04. From ‘I Always Have To Repeat Myself’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

Alma Haser got acquainted with photography while traveling around the world with her mum and her brother over 6 months (instead of attending middle school in the interim). She didn’t lose much, though. During the trip she tried shooting and modeling (for her mother, who is a keen photographer as well). Alma’s rising interest in the world of visual arts resulted in her entering Nottingham Trent University, where she graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Photography in Art Practice in 2010. Fairly predictable, the artist tried using Photoshop during her studies, but realized soon, it wasn’t the only (and the best) way to manipulate the picture.

‘I preferred to do things by hand and assemble the picture off screen. It’s not perfect, it’s not crisp and clean, and that’s what I like about it.’ (Alma Haser, from the interview with AnOtherMagazine, 2018)

05. From the ‘Cosmic Surgery’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

06. From the ‘Cosmic Surgery’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

Having spent much time experimenting with self-portraiture, Alma liked the idea to bring other people in photograph. Thus, in the majority of her projects the artist focuses on creating multi-layered portraits. In her work Alma Haser combines such craft-related techniques as weaving, folding, cutting, stitching, and painting, finding them surprisingly relevant for contemporary photography. 

‘I love making things, so I’ll often add other elements before, during or after taking a picture.’ (Alma Haser, from the interview with Photoworks, 2016)

07. From the ‘Cosmic Surgery’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

08. From the ‘Cosmic Surgery’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

Fascinated with Japanese culture and origami, in particular, the artist integrated paper folding into her creative process. For instance, in her debut series Cosmic Surgery Alma transformed parts of the subjects’ faces to place them back with a complicated modular construction. Re-photographing the final composition, Alma Haser received a completely different image, uncanny and futuristic in a way. Interesting enough, it’s the younger generation only, not their parents that the artist exposes to such kind of a metamorphosis. Why so? Here is the answer firsthand: 

‘The people in the photographs represent the next generation from us — the ‘alien people’. The mother and father (the first generation) aren’t defaced, but the others (the next generation) are. Cosmic surgery is a playful statement on that.’ (Alma Haser, talking about ‘Cosmic Surgery’ series in the interview with Metal Magazine) 

09. From the ‘Cosmic Surgery’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

10. From the ‘Cosmic Surgery’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

By the way, the title of the series Cosmic Surgery is a wordplay itself. And not just a play, but a play based on a slip. Alma misspoke the word once while discussing the topic of cosmetic surgery with her parents… and decided to name her project after that! The amazing thing is, Alma Haser managed to find her dyslexia a more useful way, fulfilling her artistic narrative with visual puzzles. Intentionally mixing up elements of the works, each time she arranges a new picture and new meanings.

11. From the ‘Twins’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

Another series by Alma Haser really worth noticing is Within 15 Minutes, which is puzzle-based in the true sense of the word. To back the story a bit up, Alma has always been amazed by twins — their external identity and closeness to each other. She even devoted one of her prior series to this phenomenon, shooting two girls who, though not being sisters, experienced their made-up affinity posing together. 

‘Intrigue and mystery need to be strong. It’s far more interesting to look at a portrait which doesn’t tell you everything all at once.’ (Alma Haser, talking about ‘Within 15 Minutes’ series in the interview with Visura, WPO, 2020)

12. From the ‘Twins’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

For Within 15 Minutes (a time range during which twins are born) the artist photographed real twins to cut the portraits pictured into puzzles and blend them into each other a bit. Thus, we still have a couple of perfect pictures of twins, but there is something bizarre about each of them: e.g. three nostrils or a narrowed eye on the face. Sounds like an automatically generated image, right? Well, almost — in the series Alma intends to reverse the process of gene transfer, demonstrating how different, actually, twins can be. 

13. From the ‘Within 15 Minutes’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

There is also a project in Alma’s practice that stands out because of the focus suddenly shifted… to plants. In Pseudo the artist refers to plants as a metaphor for the fake, strongly believed to be true. Plants as a distillation of nature yield us a highly authentic experience, however, it’s plants again that people so often try to imitate. Here Alma Haser skillfully draws a link to the way we interpret and respond to information.

‘It relates to the way we hear, read or see things on the news. We tend to cherry-pick things we think we can trust and believe in’.(Alma Haser, talking about ‘Pseudo’ series in the interview with AnOther Magazine, 2018)

Speaking on the whole, Alma Haser is recognized (and loved) for her paper aesthetic, which has something of a gloomy mystery and a bedtime story at once. So contradictory and complex is Alma Haser herself as an artist. 

16. From the ‘Pseudo’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

17. From the ‘Pseudo’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

18. From the ‘Pseudo’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

P.S. Obviously, Alma’s projects mentioned above haven’t been left unnoticed — the artist received 3rd place People’s Choice Award for Cosmic Surgery series at the Foto8 Summer Show in 2012. Her Within 15 Minutes series debuted at San Francisco PHOTOFAIRS and was on display at Photo London in 2018. In addition, British Journal of Photography called Alma Haser one of the best graduates in Photography in 2010. 

Alma Haser’s website: haser.org
Her instagram: @almahaser

In Focus: Richard Renaldi

By /ART/, /BLOG/
Text

Julia Kryshevich

In Focus: Richard Renaldi

And here we are back with the column In Focus, where we talk about outstanding photographers and their projects. Richard Renaldi is on the air today.

Richard Renaldi’s works are primarily about the personality and her character. Renaldi calls himself a photographer’s photographer, explaining that both outward and inward looking are equally important for him. Portraits are definitely the artist’s strong virtue and passion, though considering his creative approach, Renaldi might find a landscape shooting an intensive communication process as well.

‘<…> the camera is an extension of the eye that legitimizes that stare’. (Richard Renaldi, from the interview with LensCulture, 2020)

From ‘Pier 45’ series. Courtesy of the Artist_

From ‘49_50’ series. Windward Beach, O‘ahu, HI, 2007. Courtesy of the Artist_

Richard Renaldi was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1968. He took up photography at the age of 18. Having given up the opportunity to join family business, the young man entered the Fine Arts Faculty of New York University to study photography. In the 90’s Richard Renaldi tried working as a photo researcher at Magnum — that’s how his interest in portraiture was shaped. 

‘<…> I saw a lot of photos in a reportage style, and I think that inherently gave me the desire to slow things down and engage with my subjects. I could really dig into what it meant to make a portrait of a stranger on the street. (Richard Renaldi, from the interview with LensCulture, 2020)

From ‘Typology of the American Teenager’ series. Ashley and Ashlee, 2004. Courtesy of the Artist_

From ‘Typology of the American Teenager’ series. Josh and Lindsey, 2012. Courtesy of the Artist_

From ‘Typology of the American Teenager’ series. Bianca, Shailah, Kayla, and Ashley, 2011. Courtesy of the Artist_

As mentioned above, Richard creates a lot of portrait projects, five of which have been turned into books. Upon his first series, Figure and Ground (2006) the artist worked for 7 years, shooting sceneries and people all across the US with his 8×10 camera, thus trying to portray the American landscape, both natural and social one. In the Fall River Boys (2009) Renaldi explores the category of young men from the so-called small city in Massachusetts. Again here the photographer shows interest in human nature and the way it’s revealed in a surrounding and/or a relationship.

‘In the moments where I haven’t been making work I end up feeling quite restless and the only way to alleviate that is to make art’. (Richard Renaldi, from the interview with LACPhoto)

From ‘Fall River Boys’ series. Raymond and Jeffrey, 2002. Courtesy of the Artist

From ‘Fall River Boys’ series. Shane, 2006. Courtesy of the Artist

His homage to New York nightlife Manhattan Sunday (2016) and autobiographical I want your love (2018) have reached out to the hearts and minds of people, but it’s the project Touching Strangers (2014) that became the artist’s trademark. 

‘If a portrait has a narrative, I’m usually drawn to it. I don’t necessarily mind if something is staged, but when things start to feel too artificial, I think it’s a crutch’. (Richard Renaldi, from the interview with LensCulture, 2020)

It took Renaldi 7 years to produce about 70 images depicting strangers in various parts of the US paired up quite randomly. At least, for them — we can only guess what inspired Renaldi, but for the models from the streets the decision was a complete mystery and a big surprise. The task sounded simple and, at the same time, hardly feasible: to pose together with a stranger like if you were lovers/relatives/friends (put the right word here). Actually, some of the participants easily catched on, while others seemed to be confused and couldn’t get into character.

From ‘Touching Strangers’ series. Jacqueline and Halle_ Columbus, OH, 2011. Courtesy of the Artist

From ‘Touching Strangers’ series. Nathan and Robyn_ Provincetown, MA, 2012. Courtesy of the Artist_

From ‘Touching Strangers’ series. LeAsia and Rebecca_ New York, NY, 2013. Courtesy of the Artist

However, it’s not about judging how well Renaldi’s models fit in the created picture. Perhaps the project Touching Strangers might encourage us to think of the possible narratives that could be taking place in someone’s life — something you can never be sure about looking at strangers. Is this charming girl in love? She’s lighting up with joy. Or: those two look like brothers, so alike. And hundreds other guesses like that in a day.

From ‘Touching Strangers’ series. Cheyene, Charlie, and Omarian_ Cincinnati, OH, 2014. Courtesy of the Artist

From ‘Touching Strangers’ series. Alfredo and Jessica_ Queens, NY, 2011. Courtesy of the Artist

From ‘Touching Strangers’ series. Hunter, Margaret, and Abigail_ New York, NY, 2013. Courtesy of the Artist

Exhibiting frequently (his solo projects run worldwide, including but not limited to, Robert Morat Galerie in Hamburg, Yossi Milo Gallery in New York, and Fotografins Hus in Stockholm), the artist willingly shares his expertise with emerging photographers. His schedule is full of workshops, and he seemed to enjoy teaching. However, Richard Renaldi admits, he can’t give any magic formula on how to approach strangers, though his students just crave to learn that. It’s about making people relax and one’s own experience — the only tip the photographer is ready to sign.

From ‘The Grand Show’ series. Miami Beach, FL, 2011. Courtesy of the Artist_

From ‘The Grand Show’ series. Coconino County, AZ, 2013. Courtesy of the Artist_

What’s more remarkable, perhaps, is Renaldi’s own attitude towards his work and the photographic medium. The artist says he has never been close to giving up photography, though it’s quite a common story in the artistic milieu. Despite admitting the complexity of a career in photography, Richard Renaldi finds such a way valuable and enriching. And here is what he advises his aspiring colleagues (better make a note): 

‘Most important however is finding your voice and honoring it. Listening to the work you are making and nurturing it for its own sake not necessarily in the pursuit of some immediate goal’.

(Richard Renaldi, from the interview with LACPhoto) 

Richard Renaldi’s website: renaldi.com
His instagram: @renaldiphotos 

In focus: The World of Women – postmodern pop-art by Irina Greciuhina

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Alexandra Zagrebelnaia

In focus: The World of Women – postmodern pop-art by Irina Greciuhina
A talented architect and designer found her way in the contemporary art through creation of the monumental paintings of the women. Bright colored, catchy and ironic, these painting make you wonder about all the peculiar details and their meaning.
Irina was born in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, where she still lives in works. However, her style is influenced by continuous travelling and attending of International Design and Art events.
Discussing her shift from architecture to painting, Irina says “Architectural background is giving me a lot of ideas and knowledge, that I am transforming into my artworks. I am perceiving a process of the art creation as my personal cult and intimate ritual which gives me a freedom of expression”.

Futurological Congress, 2020

After years of experiments, Irina has found the most interesting subject for her – female architypes. In her works she is wondering how personality and world perception of a woman can be affected by the external factors such as giving birth to a child, building a family or even changing the gender roles. The choice of this topic is stipulated by a continuous self-study, as an artist and as a woman. She is imagining and alternative Universe with women in the center. Irina tells that these female images are recreated from different sources around her, including everyday life, fashion magazines and even internet. In fact, when you look on her paintings, you can have a feeling that you’ve seen these characters somewhere before. Maybe it’s a supermodel or a historical personality? However, often these ladies are a product of manipulations and mixing of different pictures, gestures and face expressions.

The Blue Heaven, 2019

Orbital Station, 2019

Paradoxical Illiusions, 2018

Surrealism and interpretation of dreams, became strong references to the artist, but she is expressing it in a post-modern way, mixing bright colors, catchy poses from the posters, decorative elements and patterns with the typical elements of pop art.
Since 2019 Irina has been actively exhibiting her artworks and participating in international projects. In a short period of time she has managed to participate in the International Biennial of Painting, exhibit her works in Italy, Spain and France and even have her first solo shows.
Using mostly acrylic paint and working on large-scale canvases, recently she has started to experiment with digital art, studying how the new technologies can affect the creative process, giving her new ideas and skills.

Shifting the Schizo-pole or gorgeous product that you can sell, 2018

The infinity is multiplied by reflection, 2018

XY00, 2020

And don’t forget to subscribe

In Focus: Uldus Bakhtiozina

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Julia Kryshevich

In Focus: Uldus Bakhtiozina

The child of rebuilding times, the founder of ‘Tatar Baroque’, named one of the strongest women 2014 by BBC… St. Petersburg-born artist Uldus Bakhtiozina has developed a distinctive visual language to talk about Slavic cultural code: through the prism of absurdly bizarre stereotypes, folklore characters, and a touch of romance.

Uldus Bakhtiozina was born to a family of a Tatar father, half-Ukrainian mother, and Jewish step-sister in the Soviet Leningrad (Saint Petersburg, Russia) in 1986. Growing up in the period of Perestroika has formed her candid and open view of things. How else do you explain the artist’s unconventional career path? Having studied public administration for 4 years in her home city, Uldus left for London to study Graphic Design at the renowned Central Saint Martins. 

However, the artist admits, she was brought up by the ‘street’. Doing side jobs and observing the life around, Uldus made sure she knew the direction. She returned to Saint Petersburg after graduation and started her independent artistic practice in the field of fine art photography and filmmaking

I want to learn or feel something when I look at an image – so I try to create the same experience with my my art and my life’. (Uldus Bakhtiozina, from the interview with Aesthetica Magazine, 2014) 

In her works Uldus Bakhtiozina focuses on the representation of Russian culture, drawing inspiration from folklore — legends, myths, and fairytales. Photographs by Uldus are soaked with fantasy and dream, however, it’s the detached ironic approach that makes her works intense and distinguishes the artist’s manner. For instance, in her Conjured Life series (2016) Uldus Bakhtiozina refers to escapism as a power that, though being highly addictive, helps us to live our lives and empowers us to create. 

In another collection called Desperate Romantics the artist discusses some contemporary issues of Russian society, such as gender stereotypes, problem of following one’s aspirations (often against public expectations), through the lens of Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics. Uldus Bakhtiozina admits, she is deeply impacted by the English painting and poetry of the 19th century, along with Iron Man, German language, and pops of color. The artist bravely confronts narrow-minded perceptions with her great sense of humor and advocates for freedom of expression. 

My life in general can be described in one phrase, ‘analytical spontaneity’, I analyze my surroundings and take spontaneous action’. (Uldus Bakhtiozina, from the interview with Vogue Italy, 2015) 

Uldus never digitally manipulates her works — what for, since she is perfectly capable of doing magic herself, with the help of a small, but professional team during many hours of shooting. The artist enjoys acting as a model sometimes (and she’s really great in it), however, she isn’t fond of using instagram as a tool of promotion. According to her, an old school method of portfolio review might work the best for the aspiring photographers. 

In 2014 Uldus became the first Russian speaker in the history of TED and took part in the BBC 100 Women project. Two years later she was proclaimed a Senior TED fellow. The artist collaborates with such fashion editions, as Vogue Italy, Aesthetica Magazine, Worbz, Chaeg Magazine, C-41 Magazine. The Best Young Fashion Photographer according to Vogue Italy (Photo Vogue 2016) and the finalist of Laguna Art Prize (2017), Uldus Bakhtiozina currently lives and works in Saint-Petersburg. She is represented by Anna Nova Gallery

‘Be brave, be ironic — it helps. Be funny and create some magic’. (Uldus Bakhtiozina, from the TED Talk 2016)

Uldus Bakhtiozina’s website: uldus.com
Her instagram @uldusss

Pioneers in colour in photography: William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz and Mitch Epstein

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Pioneers in colour in photography: William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz and Mitch Epstein

Nowadays when we can create light and colour of the picture with the help of digital apps, it seems rather odd that it took several decades for color photography to regain its rightful place in collections and museums. The Kodak color film was already introduced in the 1920s and the full production of the improved Kodachrome began in 1935. For a long time, however, the color photographs had muted tones: the crowd dressed more than modestly, burgundy cars, brown houses.

However, when colour photography finally overthrew its monochrome father it became the major source of inspiration and work for many artists such as Mitch Epstein, William Eggleston and Joel Meyerowitz.

Joel Meyerowitz (1938, New-York, USA)

Joel Meyerowitz is a acknowledged genius, a universal master of photography, who knows how to find exceptional moments in ordinary places and has frequently changed the way he shoots. The famous photographer Robert Frank (author of the photo book „Americans“) had a tremendous impact on the oeuvre of Joel Meyerowitz.

In his reminiscences, he notes that it was Frank who contributed to his decision to take up photography. One of the episodes that took place in 1962 is quite remarkable. At that time Meyerowitz worked as an art director of the magazine and did not even think about photography. However, by chance got on the Frank’s shooting, was almost enchanted by his dynamic way of working, the constant movement around the model. At that moment it was not important for Meyerowitz how the result of the photo shoot would appear – he was attracted by the process itself.

Having no theoretical training in photography, Joel Meyerowitz was able to wrap this flaw in his favour. He was not bound by any dogmas or rules – he took pictures as he saw and felt in his heart.

In 1966, Meyerovitz took an 18-month trip across Europe, a journey that deeply inspired him and could be regarded as a turning point in his career as a photographer. There Meyerowitz was taking many shots from a moving car.

William Eggleston (1939, Tennessee, USA)

William Eggleston is an American photographer who contributed to making color photography an admissible and venerated art piece deserving of a gallery exhibition. 

The first big research on colour photography was in 1976, with an Eggleston exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and then the genre grew with the collaboration of the Dusseldorf School of Photography.

William Eggleston has an astonishing skill at creating amazing compositions from the most common items. Those who have seen the master at work have noted that Eggleston is very serious, even fanatic about the composition of objects. Picking the right angle sometimes took a lot of time for the photographer, but he always was rewarded with an impressive outcome.

The ordinary life of the American people. This is exactly the focus of the vast majority of William Eggleston’s photographs. He was not chasing sensational photos, did not shoot loud happenings – and, nevertheless, his shots are exciting, capturing the viewer’s attention for quite a long time.

Eggleston is still taking photographs as usual today. A new documentary film called „William Eggleston in the Real World“ presents the viewer with a unique personality, transmitting his view on work and life. The documentary was released in 2005.

Mitch Epstein ( 1952,  Massachusetts, USA)

Mitchell „Mitch“ Epstein (born 1952 in Holyoke, Massachusetts) – American photographer, and one of the first photographers using color. His photographs are in numerous major museum collections, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art; The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Tate Modern in London.

By the mid-1970s, Epstein had abandoned his academic studies and started traveling, beginning to study photography in the United States.

Ten of the photographs he made during this period were in a 1977 group exhibition at Light Gallery in New York. Ben Lifson wrote in his Village Voice review: “Mitch Epstein’s ten color photographs are the best things at Summer Light…. At 25, Epstein’s apprenticeship is over, as his work shows. He stands between artistic tradition and originality and makes pictures about abandoned rocking-horses and danger, about middle-age dazzled by spring blossoms, about children confused by sex and beasts. He has learned the terms of black-and-white photography, and although he adds color, he hasn’t abandoned them, loving photography’s past while trying to step into its future.”

During his life he published several books: New York Arbor, (Steidl, 2013) Berlin (Steidl & The American Academy in Berlin, 2011); American Power (Steidl, 2009); Mitch Epstein: Work (Steidl, 2006); Recreation: American Photographs 1973-1988 (Steidl 2005); and Family Business (Steidl 2003), which won the 2004 Kraszna-Krausz Photography Book Award.

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Tutorial on how to create contemporary art

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Tutorial on how to create contemporary art

Nothing you can’t turn into art. Artists were proving it over and over again, without seeing the end of their experiments. In our article “BEING ON LOCKDOWN. How to find inspiration in everyday objects?” were shown the examples of implementing simple and unremarkable things into a piece of art. 

Today we are ready to inspire you again and present a little tutorial on how to create a contemporary art. This is a process of combining the mental, physical and essentially emotional effort of creating something that brings artists together over time and across media.

What Is It Made Of?

It could be anything!

Sheila Hicks, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013–14

Hicks has long been concerned with the intricacies of interfacing design of fibre objects with the environment that contains them, in this case in a museum building.

For Hicks, color, form, and texture are inextricably linked. She wants her work to ignite our urge to touch.  “I think that is important, the wanting: the desire to hold it in your hands, to befriend it, to see if it bites, or if it’s compatible to your existence, and in what way,” she said.

Color, shape and grain are intrinsically linked for Hicks. She wishes her artwork to ignite our desire to touch.

Liz Deschenes on Tilt/Swing (360º field of vision, version 1), 2009

Deshene’s work broadens photographic ideas by exploring the links between the mechanics of vision, image creation processes and modes of display.

The idea of her work is to make the viewer to look everywhere not only straight ahead as they usually observe masterpieces in the gallery. “The viewer takes on what would be the movements of the view camera, and the goal is to liberate the viewer so the viewer can make decisions about how they navigate the piece.”

Kerry Tribe, H.M., 2009

Tribe provides physical mechanisms of image movement in the content of its works. H.M. is a reconstructed portrait of Henry Molison, known in scientific literature as Patient H.M., who’s had a bad memory loss since his lobotomy. As with memory, the tape is unstable and decomposes over time.

How Is It Made?

Just be inspired!

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, The Myriad Motives of Men, 2014

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye paints rapidly, normally finishing his canvases in a single day.  She brings them back from her memories and remarks, and draws her inspiration from art history, by developing her thoughts in books, pictures and, in the final, on the canvas itself.

She doesn’t say much about who and where these figures are, preferring to keep her compositions open to any plot that the audience may bring to them.

Luther Price, Sorry, 2005–12

Luther Price once described the value of process: “It’s not always about what you are working on…..but how it gets there.” It took him seven years and 80 handmade slides to get to his collage-film, Sorry. Like large portions of his work—encompassing performance, films, and slides—Sorry includes scenes of suburban family life melded, in this case, with a 1940s film about Jesus and the Crucifixion.

Who Makes It?

Everyone.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Work/Travail/Arbeid, 2017

Work/Travail/Arbeid features seven dancers and seven musicians performing continuously during museum hours, which coincide, as De Keersmaeker has noted, with her company’s regular workday. The dancers twirl, run, skip, sway, guided by chalk patterns they have drawn on the floor (which they must redraw every hour) and by the unrestricted circulation of museumgoers.

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen on 75 Watt, 2013

In 2013, the artists Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen traveled to Zhongshan, China to create an artwork at the White Horse Electric Factory. There, they made a film in which workers at an assembly line perform choreographed movements while assembling an enigmatic object.

Contemporary Art is a freedom!

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Interview with Victoria Rosenman

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Interview with Victoria Rosenman

1.Victoria, you have an art education and you planned to devote yourself to painting. What was the key moment to choosing photography as your medium?

There were exactly two key moments that led me to photography:
My familiarity with graphics and painting and unfortunately also my subjective or false perception of artistic value. In the first year of study, I felt very privileged when it came to painting techniques, because I was convinced that my years of experience as a child in a Russian painting school full of discipline and all conventions proved my skill and that I was able to do something better than other people. I demonstrated lifelike illustrations on paper or canvas, but they were without content. This demonstration of the inauthentic, technical ability resulted in my first strong artistic block.
At that time my professor recommended that I write down all my suffering and other emotional states, so that as semester papers and at exhibitions I presented all the texts and formulas that came from within. The reaction of the audience was rather neutral, which made me very outraged and sad. Nobody wanted to read subjective pseudophilosophical texts by an art student. So I decided on stronger visualisation so that outsiders can better engage with my thoughts and concepts. So I started to reproduce the content of what was written in the form of photography: texts became images.

Another reason why I chose  photography and why I also continue the project „From the destruction of a muse“ (the upcoming exhibition „Don’t kill me“ is another component of the project) , are interpersonal relationships that inspire and frighten me, which I ultimately “preserve” as an eternal requiem in various forms of representation.
I started documenting an extraordinary relationship. I wanted to capture the personality of a person because this presence and aura in a good sense nourished and moved me. For me, this person was a muse – a source of inspiration. I later found out that certain characteristics and polarities of a human personality are very appealing to me and I want to „hold onto“ more of the psyche of everyone. Photography was able to clarify my visions and a certain stage of my relationships and trigger further, productive thought processes.

2.Your oevre is inspired by classical photography; light, shapes and color. What do you think is the starting point in your work?

I would not say that they are classic photographic representations. I mostly take pictures outdoors in daylight – I use almost no artificial light sources because I love painterly aesthetics and the transition or mixing of photos to and / or painting is very liberating. I don’t want to commit myself to a specific medium, the photos I take are part of the whole. Texts, installations and, of course, the “muses” are part of the whole. Often at my openings people are exhibited in front of their photographic images, which I call my muses. So I offer the viewer to compare the „living“, „breathing“ reality with my perception. Speaking of comparisons: if we come back to the original question: the classic view of my photos is explained or visible to the extent that, of course, I do not like depth of field or photograph everything sharply and light / shadow plays often achieve painterly effects that are reminiscent of old master paintings.

3.Choosing a Muse is the main part of the process for your works. Tell us about how you choose them?

I watch a lot, but I’m not looking for people who should become my muses. People who work with me on the project, despite their openness, radiate a lot of discrepancy and are not afraid to show their vulnerability. To recognise such a character, of course, I also have to spend some time with this person. The revelation of the inner polarities of a muse is the origin and beginning of my artistic work. The photographic illustration or texts are only final results or memorabilia, a valuable process that documents an interpersonal relationship – a devotion between artist and muse, an interplay of power and dependency, guilt and innocence – a mutual challenge. I also write about this in my manifestos, which I have now published in the form of an art book (the book can be purchased at the opening of „don’t kill me“)
Of course, a discrepancy between the outside and inside of a person is always very exciting and a certain appearance often leads us to get to know the personality of the person better. In the end, mutual trust counts and good friendships have developed from many processes.

4.Your manifesto speaks of a certain “seismographic perception of a person”, please explain what exactly this means and how it is displayed in your works.

My “muses” should be able to show themselves to be as vulnerable as possible. Of course, this requires a lot of preparatory work, a process that I call very valuable. In the process, we build trust, open up, deliver each other. You go through different phases together, which are sometimes attractive, sometimes painful. Later, a clear psychogram of a personality emerges – in the case for me: a photographic image of the „current“ muse. This means that a „seismographic“ approach means a meticulous recording or demonstration of the characteristics of a muse.

5.The starting points in your work are eternal human conflicts; power and dependence, destruction and creation. What exactly do you project in your works? Process or decision

The process is supposed to satisfy me in the first place and when it happens, I automatically trigger new thoughts and thus also offer solutions. Whether these solutions can be applied to other individuals is less important to me. It is enough if questions arise. „Mark“ questions people – I like this idea.

6.Describe what beauty means to you in a nutshell.

I think there are many types of beauty and their intensities increase or decrease in different contexts. For this I reveal my first, self-invented formula, which I presented on a DinA4 sheet of paper in my first year of graduation:
Degradation / effect = value.

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Defining Fashion Zeitgeist 2020

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A l i n a  S t e b l o v s k a y a

Defining Fashion Zeitgeist 2020

As any cultural phenomenon, fashion cannot exist on its own. It inevitably reflects the current trends in the society, and whenever it fails to respond fast to these trends, the consequences will follow.  

For instance, in the past few years we have seen an uptake in body positive movement and inclusivity. Some brands quickly picked it up, while others refused to listen. And just like that – the famous Victoria’s Secret show had to come to an end and the brand sales started to drop, because they were not able to adapt fast enough to the spirit of the time.

Climate change Vivienne Westwood

Climate change Vivienne Westwood

To define the 2020 zeitgeist, we can use three words: environmental activism, liberation, pandemic. These words might not immediately make you think of fashion, but yet they are what is on many people’s mind, which forces fashion world to yet again adapt and respond.

Environmental activism changes the agenda

 If 1960s changed the world by bringing fast fashion, 2020s are going in reverse by popularising the slow fashion movement. Ever since the documentary “The True Cost” came out in 2015, it has been out in the open: fashion industry is not sustainable. Then 2019 brought us climate change protests with Generation Z becoming a new force expressing their opinions. Now there is no way back from having sustainability on the agenda and fashion industry is quickly filling up with new eco-conscious buzz words, like “recycling”, “upcycling”, “carbon footprint”, “resale”, “ethical fashion”, and many more.

New kind of liberation

Millennials and Generation Z are now getting more and more power in the consumer space, and they are not there not joke around. They are the representatives of a new multi passionate workforce that is often self-employed. This often gives them higher than average disposable income and allows to dictate their own rules. Freedom from the outdated social constructs, strong opinions and readiness to invest more in the brands that they believe in and that have a clear mission are what defines them. And this overarching feeling of freedom is what determines their style choices too.

Facemask

Facemask

Pandemic

The definition of 2020 zeitgeist would not be complete without mentioning the pandemic. Millions of people have been forced to stay home and adjust to a new norm. Many had to start shopping online more, spend more time in tracksuits and homewear, creating a stronger need for clothes to be more comfortable and wearable than ever. The former symbol of air pollution — face masks —  have become our new must-have. And we all have been forced to pause. Reflect. Re-evaluate.